Introduction to Issue #1

We as humans have a long standing relationship with opiates. They have been in use for thousands of years and provide much needed pain relief for many. Throughout this issue I'll be talking about the reasons why we find ourselves in this predicament.


Being from South Florida, the pill mills in 2004-2005 really blew up. In Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade became the epicenter of roxys, oxycodone, whatever. 


I was a competitive gymnast and cheerleader in high school. I messed my knee up so they put me on Oxycontin. I was on it for so long… I didn’t even know what heroin was. I’d heard of it but I didn’t know… I tried it and it was like the love of my life. 


I have four small children. I was in a happy marriage. Everything going good. For some reason I decided to leave him for another man who ended up passing away. He died of a heroin overdose. 

Taking Tory Home

We had only been in the neighborhood for about 10 minutes before I saw a young lady. I can usually tell by the way someone carries themselves if they are walking to get to a destination, or if they are working on getting their next fix. I could tell that she was in the later category. I pulled up and told her briefly about the project and asked if she'd like to tell us her story.

The State of Harm Reduction in the South

 As the “Opioid Crisis” reaches a fever pitch across the United States, there are frequent reminders that no person or areas are immune to its deadly grasp. This includes sleepy Southern States that were previously known  more for rolling hills than pill mills; that is unless you speak with the residents.


Melissa's sad but powerful story was included in the book. I met her in New Orleans in 2015. I share this video when I do presentations because it's such an honest account of how crippling addiction is so often linked to being disconnected.  


She struggled with depression. I'm not exactly sure how the pain pills got involved but at some point she was given pain killers. Things started changing. 

Rethinking The War on Drugs

I watched this video long before I started research for this project. In fact, I quote Johann Hari in my book because I think these very important words could go along way in re-framing how we think about and treat addiction and addicts. If you are in anyway touched by addiction, I urge you to take the 15 minutes to watch this very powerful Ted Talk. 


I never went to 12 step programs. The religious aspect of it, I didn't want to get involved with. But I had to change people places and things. I could not hang around with my same friends and I could not hang around the same neighborhood.


He detoxed in jail. They gave him some type of medication to help just to help with the jitters. It was bad. He went through DT's for about 2 weeks. He couldn't sleep at all. He's got 6 felonies. He's got 1 charge for possession of heroin, 2 burglaries, and those are violent felonies because they were forced entry, and he has 3 entering autos and he has violation of probation.


I found out I was adopted when I was nineteen and that’s part of the reason I’m out here. It messed me up. I was lied to. I’m not out on the street by force. It’s really because of pain. 


It's like I tell the youth, What y'all doin' it could be a blessing and it can be a curse. It's a blessing now, you enjoying life. You get everything. You get to buy this and buy that, but when that curse comes... and the judge say 32 years and you 19 years old... 


I'm scared, you know? I don't want to be Tory. Honestly Brent, I'm afraid to say that I'll never do it again. When you do that, you're putting yourself above what you've been through. I'm human and I have a problem. A real problem. That's the beginning of it when you can say, I got this issue and I'm not like everybody else.